“At first, perhaps, a tiny streamlet, caused by the overflowing of the waters of a spring from its rocky basin, the youthful river is gradually enlarged by mountain brooks, almost equal to itself, pouring into it on either side, and by casual yet large supplies, from rain, mist and melted snow. Near its source, it is easily fordable, or is crossed by some rough tree or plank; but widening and deepening as it goes, it is at length only to be traversed by the ferry-boat, or by a series of lofty arches, connected into one magnificent bridge. It waters and fertilizes innumerable fields; mighty forests owe to it their stateliness and beauty; it furnishes drink to unnumbered flocks and herds, and to the inhabitants of populous cities; and, after discharging a thousand salutary offices, whether in supplying men with wholesome waters, or in draining an entire region of its impurities, it at last mingles its flood with the ocean.” Rev Henry Duncan, Sacred Philosophy of the Seasons: vol 2 (Spring), p.48 (1847)
Elements of The River Archetype
- flowing, movement
- interconnections with other bodies of water (smaller creeks and streams flow into and create a river; rivers flow into other rivers, create lakes and flow into oceans)
- power and energy that shapes nature, and that power can be harnessed by man
- a living energy that sustains life in all forms
The Spiritual River
The river is the spiritual path. It is the best concrete representation of our consciousness. Forever changing course, elevation and climate. It moves past many settings but doesn’t stop and own or attach itself to any one place or idea.
Rivers contain obstacles to navigation, such as islands and rocks. They carry and sustain other beings (plants, fish, ducks, etc).
Rivers do not really choose their own course, but they do follow the natural terrain and elevation.
The Artistic River
An artist can find power in the river. The artist’s inspiration springs from a mystical, magical place. Creative energy is an endless current that moves with infinite power. The works created by the artist are put into the stream of culture and merge into it, becoming part of it and changing it/ shaping it at the same time.
Rivers have their own inherent beauty, and they are the causes of beauty. First running down mountains, over cliffs, and then serenely through green valleys.
The River as a Personal Symbol
The river is the journey. It has a beginning, middle and end. It is fluid, forever moving, and yet you can always return to the same spot and observe it. Whatever the river’s meaning for you, take the time to marvel at its power and beauty. Think of all that it has carried and all that is has meant to you in your life.